Ori's Reviews > Fever Dream

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston
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May 26, 11

Read in May, 2011

Just as I was once a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes novels, I love the character Preston & Child have created in Agent Pendergast. He's pretty much the ultimate in gentile bad-assery.

Most of the Pendergast novels traffic in cliffhangers and suspense. I'm rarely able to guess what twists and turns the plot will take, but that's not because they're random, but instead because it's well written. Reoccurring characters act according to their character and are not just tools in the action. Another thing that's cool about the Pendergast novels, is that characters, even reoccurring ones, are not immortal. If they must be killed to advance the narrative that's exactly what's done.

Sadly, this entry in the series feels like a paint-by-number affair. While we don't know all the details, the main villian and betrayer is clear within the first 45 pages, and even the final plot twist isn't all that surprising. Maybe the Pendergast novels have jumped the shark. I mean, I don't know how it's possible to top thrills and twists of The Cabinet of Curiosities, but each subsequent book has at least made an effort.

In Fever Dream beloved characters like Vincent D'Agosta and Laura Heyward are just shadows of their past characters. D'Agosta fulfills his usual "every-man-detective" role. Heyward is anxious and indignant about D'Agosta working Pendergast, but in the end they all put forth their best effort and problems are solved. Nothing new is added to their character.

In fact, though the novel is ostensibly about Pendergast's past, and more specifically his married life, we learn precious little new about Pendergast, and certainly nothing that really changes our conception of his character.

Meanwhile, they toss in a totally disconnected subplot involving Constance Greene. The events of her narrative seem to be in direct conflict with the mythology set in place by Book of the Dead and Wheel of Darkness, specifically the prophecy in the latter. True, we only get heresay, we never see the relevant scene, however, even if a later book squares up the mythology, there was still virtually no connection between the main plot of the book and Constance Greene's plot line. Yes, her situation at the end of the book does dovetail neatly with Pendergast family history, however it feels more like a convenience to reduce her role in later books, which is a shame, because she's always been the character with the most potential to both have an increased role in Pendergast's adventures, and also grow as an emotional entity. Now it looks like this growth has been stopped.

Had Preston and Child not already set such a high bar perhaps this would have risen to three stars. While not as impressive as usual, the book is still well researched, and the historical basis is interesting, but over all this book was a disappointment that I hope will not become the trend in this series.
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Michael I couldn't put my finger(s) on what it was about this series that left me with a bad taste. A bad but bearable taste. I see now that I couldn't put my finger on it because yours was already there! lol.

I appreciate your review here. Thanks for sharing!

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